Monday, January 30, 2023

Theater Review: Lucky Stiff

                Gamblers in "Lucky Stiff"

Ready for an evening of craziness, goofy songs, loony people and a plot that will keep you guessing?

Have I got a suggestion for you: Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty’s wildly farcical musical “Lucky Stiff,” playing through Feb. 19 at Scripps Ranch Theatre.

This is a co-production with Oceanside Theatre; the show will run there from March 3-19.

It’s been a while since I’ve seen a farce, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen a musical farce, but this one will keep you laughing and let you forget about all the awful news we’ve been subjected to lately.

Kathy Brombacher directs the lunacy and eleven outrageously talented actor/singers, while music director Terry O’Donnell keeps the whole thing moving from the piano.

Here’s the plot: Bored shoe salesman Harry gets a cable that his Uncle Anthony has died and left him $6 million on one condition: He must take Uncle Anthony (in a wheelchair) on a gambling trip to Monaco. If he refuses, the money will go to the Universal Dog Home of Brooklyn. There’s also a crazy Italian showgirl named Rita La Porta (former lover of Uncle Anthony), who embezzled diamonds from her husband and blamed it on her brother, optometrist Vinnie. Oh, and a committed dog saver named Annabel Glick who works for a local charity. And various other characters who would all like to get their hands on the diamonds Uncle Anthony left.

No, it doesn’t make sense and it doesn’t need to. Just know that they will all end up in Monte Carlo, where many crazy things will happen. Don’t bother trying to figure it out, just enjoy this terrific cast as they cavort before you.

The set is one I’ve seen several times at this theater. It’s extremely malleable, with doors and large pieces that can be swiveled to become something else. The cast does most of the work here, when they’re not singing and dancing up a storm.

This is the best overall singing cast I’ve seen anywhere. All the voices are excellent, and they all seem to be having a whale of a time portraying these wild and crazy characters.

Cody Ingram’s Harry is a delight to watch, as his “oboy, free money” attitude changes with plot developments that make for an experience he doesn’t expect.

Erica Marie Weisz is a gas as the loud (in all ways, including dress) showgirl Rita, and she belts out her songs exactly the way you’d expect her to.

Kelly Deroun plays “Dog lady” Annabel with all the capital-c Commitment you’d expect of a lady who saves dogs. She also sings like an angel. But what will happen when she finds herself attracted to admitted dog hater Harry?

Olivia Pence looks and sounds like you’d expect of Dominique of Monte Carlo: red hair, looking great in a sparkly gold and black dress, and has a wonderful time singing “Speaking French.”

Oh yes, and the real star, of course, is Uncle Anthony, played (wordlessly) and sat (in that wheelchair) by Scripps Ranch favorite Ralph Johnson.

If you’re in the mood for a little escapism (who isn’t?), this is the show for you.

               "Lucky Stiff" cast

The details

“Lucky Stiff” (a co-production with Oceanside Theatre Company) plays through Feb. 19 at Scripps Ranch Theatre, 9783 Avenue of Nations on the Alliant University campus.

Shows Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m.; Sunday at 2 p.m. Industry night is Monday, Feb. 6.

Production moves to Oceanside Theatre (217 North Coast Highway) from March 3-19. Schedule Friday and Saturday at 8, Sunday at 2 p.m. Tickets: 


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